Response to Rachel

A blog reader named Rachel left a comment on my Thanksgiving post, and due to server problems, I didn’t see the comment until this morning. I felt so bad, I thought I’d make a blog post out of the comment, and drop Rachel an email with my apologies.

Rachel commented:

Hi Shawn,

My husband was laid off on 12/04/06 after 9 years with the same company. His two week severance check and our minimal savings (due to my college tuition last fall!) barely paid the bills this month. Needless to say we are terrified to face next month. We got approved for food stamps, but have no idea what to do about toilet paper, laundry soap, etc. And next months utilities… Needless to say reading your post helped me realize that other people face this situation all the time. You are now in a position to pay your bills… that in itself is inspiration to me. I would love any advice on how to cope. Thanks for your post.

Rachel,

I’m so sorry I missed your comment. Apparently, with all the server problems I’ve been having, I didn’t get an email notification of a comment. First off, I hope all is going well for you and your husband, and I’ll reply, however late it might be.

My heart really goes out to you, as I know how difficult it is to be faced with such a daunting outlook. I think it’s important to start with the realization that in the WORST case scenario, life will still go on. When I had the car accident, Donna and I ended up moving our family (2 year old and pregnant wife) into a spare room at my Mother in Law’s house. Even if you lose your house, car, get utilities shut off, cell phones shut off, etc, etc — with food stamps and a receptive friend/family member, you guys will survive. Even if you don’t have a friend or family member that will take you in, for the short term, a homeless shelter or camping in a tent (climate dependant) will work in a pinch. That said, let’s explore some more friendly options. 🙂

Firstly, an income is vital. Thankfully, where we live, food stamps are available for EXACTLY THIS TYPE OF SITUATION. Don’t feel bad about taking food stamps, the taxes you’ve always paid (and will continue to pay) are what funds the program. It’s designed for this type of situation. Back to my original point, however, an income is vital. Even in our bad economy, there ARE jobs available. Places like McDonalds are usually hiring, and they are very flexible regarding hours. That flexibility helps when interviews, etc. come into place later.

Don’t try too hard to get a “perfect” job at first. You’re not trying to build a career right now, you’re trying to survive while finding a career job. Donna (my wife) actually bussed tables part time at a local restaurant. It didn’t pay well, but it did pay. Also, it’s amazing the confidence and self esteem that even a little income can bring.

If your living condition is acceptable, and social tensions (ie, relationship with host) aren’t too bad, make sure to stay there until you can really afford to leave. I’m not saying you should overstay your welcome, but at the same time, don’t put yourself into a situation you can’t afford.

I’m not sure about your faith — but I urge you seek a local church. Not to look for handouts or anything, but rather to offer some Hope, Health, and yes, Help. Even if you’re not a “church person” — there are some really good people in churches. If you go to a Protestant type church (I’m a Baptist, I say Protestant because there are some other good denominations under that umbrella), there will be folks that want to help you. Yes, help in your faith — but also in whatever way they can. Many job opportunities start at church, along with many other life changing opportunities too. 🙂

Lastly I’ll end the post with a reminder to you and your husband. Financial hard times are stressful to a relationship in a way that is unexplainable. It can draw you closer, but it also has the potential to split you apart. Make sure to keep your relationship strong and supportive regardless of your situation.

I hope things are going well for you,
Shawn

2 thoughts on “Response to Rachel

  1. Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for the response…so far things are looking up. As a result of my husband’s lay off he has decided to finish the last 2 semester’s of his Bachelor’s degree. Because I am also a student, we have both now qualified for student loans which eases the burden quite a bit. We are both consistently looking for work, I mean daily! So we are hoping to have something happen anytime with that. It is very hard to swallow your pride, but we did and are receiving food stamps. We have to feed our children. We have both been taxpayers for years, I guess I now see the benefit of paying taxes! I am glad the system is there for those who need it. We have also gotten a hardship judgement on out mortgage which cut our payment in half for the next year and we do have unemployment income. So… again I appreciate your response.

    Have a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

  2. It’s great to hear things are going so well (all things relative… 🙂 )

    Thanks for the good cheer, and I hope your holidays went well too!

    -Shawn

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